When I think galleries, I generally think art – paintings, sculptures and photographs. Poetry is not something I associate with a gallery, but it was poetry that surprised and amused us at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts on Wellington’s waterfront. I’d never heard of Ben Stokes, but his “Place to Be” hip-hop-rap style poem bought a smile to our face. Ben is New Zealand’s 2014 National Poetry Slam Champion, and in this poem he describes exactly what makes New Zealand such a fantastic Place To Be. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Go on….hit the play button.
Wellington hosts numerous other private and publicly funded galleries peppered along Continue reading →
I left New Zealand when I was 19 years old, my first experience of running away. Since then I have tried to come back every two or three years to see my family. Each time I feel compelled to reach out and touch the ghost of my childhood and wonder whether others have similar experiences. I devour chocolate fish and pineapple lumps, (New Zealand confectionary delights), candy floss, mixed lollies sold in paper bags, hokey pokey ice creams, spearmint milkshakes which must be served in an icy cold aluminium container and for a savoury dish, bacon and egg pie with sliced tomato on top. I could buy these in Australia but somehow it would be traitorous to eat them there.
Then there is the drive past the family home, sold when my mother died 15 years ago, Continue reading →
Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura are both towns on the South Island of New Zealand that we have visited previously, but Akaroa was new to the itinerary. We can thank another of our friends, also named Ann, for that suggestion. Each of these towns are unique in their own right, and they are towns that will remain on our list of places to visit again.
Akaroa is situated on the coast, about 80km southeast of Christchurch. It was New Zealand’s only French Settlement, with 60 of the first emigrants arriving in August, 1840. Whilst retaining a French flavour with a few French flags flying and French street names, it was the quaint village atmosphere and scenic beauty that attracted us. Although we didn’t do it, swimming with Hector’s Dolphins, one of the world’s smallest and rarest breeds, is the unique attraction of the town.
Standing at the lookout on the most easterly point of the Kaikoura Peninsula, you can see forever……….well, maybe not forever, but you can see a very long way. They say you can even see the North Island from here on a clear day.
Maori legend talks of the demi-god Maui, who landed an enormous fish from his canoe and used what is now the Kaikoura Peninsula to steady his foot.
The fish became Te Ika a Maui (New Zealand’s North Island), his canoe Te Waka a Maui (the South Island) and the strong seat of his canoe became Te Taumanu o te Waka a Maui or “the seat of Maui’s canoe” (the Kaikoura Peninsula).
I never expected to cry while standing in the square at Christchurch. The ugly jagged scar of the earthquake four years ago in February 2011, when 185 people died, was so apparent that it took my breath away and I wept. This is a city which has experienced an intense trauma, and its everywhere you look.
I’d followed the news reports when the earthquake happened. As a New Zealander I was concerned but if I’m truthful I really didn’t take the time to understand the scale of the disaster. Even when I spoke to my friend, who had been home visiting, and driving in the city of Christchurch at the time of the quake, I still didn’t get the enormity of the devastation.
When you take the panorama of Lake Wakatipu, and contrast it with the towering peaks of the Remarkables mountain range, you are provided with an amazing backdrop to this thriving hub of business, retail and tourism.
Anne and I have just spent a relaxing five days in and around Queenstown with three members of Continue reading →
In Maori legend the Araiteuru canoe (one of the large ancestral canoes that came from Hawaiki) was wrecked on Shag Point while on its way south in search of greenstone. Food-baskets and kumara on board were washed ashore. The kumara became irregularly shaped rocks and the circular food-baskets became the Moeraki Boulders, called by the Maori Te Kaihinake (the food-baskets). The reef at the mouth of the Shag River is said to be the petrified hull of the canoe, and a prominent rock nearby to be the mortal remains of its navigator, Hipo. Names of passengers are given to hills in the area. The legend is an example of how a colourful story would be woven around the physical features of the landscape to perpetuate a knowledge of geography in a culture without a written language.
We should have been having a romantic Valentine’s dinner in Dunedin tonight………instead, we enjoyed a walk along the blustery beach, hand in hand at Waikouaiti – even more romantic.
Nobody told us that every bed in Dunedin was booked out because of the World Cup Cricket – New Zealand’s Black Caps are playing Scotland early next week. Oh well, the best laid plans are always subject to change.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all – How did you spend it?
We’ve been on the run for about a week, maybe just a bit more, and time is starting to slide. I have very little idea of what day it is and it feels as if I have been away for a long time. Bliss. This somehow feels different than a holiday. Having six months off creates a new perspective. Sorry work but I am not missing you.
Our pace has now dramatically slowed as we are spending time with my 65 year old sister who uses a walking stick and has challenges with mobility. It’s a humbling exercise in patience, one which I struggle with.
Now with my family of birth I have taken up the position as youngest sister and slid easily into the middle seat in the back of the car, a place where I suspect many youngest sisters live. My daughter will laugh at this as often her place in our family car is the middle seat. There are not many situations where I am now the “youngest” of anything so I will relish my place.
I am already getting tired of restaurant and fast food meals which means that for the first time in a long time I am thinking about cooking, not that I am doing any. Steven cooked bacon and eggs for dinner and it tasted like a treat.
As the frenzy of work has absented my head I have space for other ideas to float by but right now I’m not thinking of much more than how extraordinarily beautiful Queenstown is.
Steven and I are muddling along beautifully together… there will be a time along this journey when I suspect we will need time out from each other.
I’ll update regularly about our experience on the run… but I couldn’t possibly set a timetable for that….or anything.
Whenever we think about undertaking a bike trip in unknown territory I get scared that I won’t be able to do it. I fear I might become stranded somewhere, half way up a hill, too tired to go any further and with no way to get home. Physical exercise has never been my thing so contemplating riding 152 km does not come easy to me. I’ve had to turn back on one bike trip and get frustrated trying to find information that gives me a real sense of how difficult the trip will be. I want to be challenged but not distressed.